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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52829. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052829. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Development of a mouse model of abdominal cutaneous flaps for breast reconstruction.

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Divisions of Transplant Surgery, Department Of Surgery, Medical University Of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


Autologous tissue transfer, in addition to replacing tissue that was lost during injury or surgery, offers women an excellent option to improve cosmetic appearance and self-confidence following mastectomy due to breast cancer. However, flap necrosis is a complication in obese patients undergoing this procedure. We created a mouse model to study the flap-related complications that leads to decreased flap survival in autologous breast reconstruction.


Left superficial inferior epigastric (SIE) pedicle abdominal-cutaneous flaps were elevated in 8 week-old, obese ob/ob male mice and their lean littermates. Flaps were followed by serial photography. Area of flap necrosis was measured at 7 days. Statistical analysis was performed.


Necrosis was observed at the distal margin of the flaps, in both lean and obese groups. Lean left SIE flaps (n = 8) had a total area flap necrosis of 9.1% at 7 days whereas obese left SIE flaps (n = 8) had a total area flap necrosis of 45.5% at 7 days. Obese flaps had a statistically significant increase in necrosis compared to the lean flaps, p = 0.001.


There was a significant difference between flap survival in lean and obese SIE pedicle flaps in our mouse model. We have developed the first flap model of obesity utilizing the superficial epigastric pedicle in the mouse. This model is optimal for future studies to dissect out mechanisms that lead to the complications related to flap survival for breast reconstruction, especially in obese subjects.

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